I’m sure you’ve felt this way before. You feel like you’re never going to be good enough, no matter what you do. It’s hard to live with yourself when it feels like your life is just a constant struggle and there’s nothing that can make it better. I want to talk about some of the reasons why we feel like this so often, and how we can change our mindset in order to find happiness in ourselves.
First, a little bit about me. I am Contessa Akin, self worth coach and childhood abuse survivor. Growing up I received the direct message “you will never amount to a thing” and indirect messages like seeing a body of a woman without a head and that body was slim, sleek and smooth. I learned that skinny is the only thing a woman had to offer. I spent years trying to be what I thought other people wanted me to be, and not really getting anywhere in life. Eventually, with a few major turning points in my life (like learning about self-worth) I started living like I am valuable and now I know you are too!
Let’s dive into the External Factors
External factors include things that were outside of your control like Being told I’d never amount to anything. These external factors can be overtly obvious like someone saying something directly to you or they can appear a little more subtle like someone critical of your behavior or appearance. Like did you have a mother who no matter what you wore had something to say about it?
The biggest external factor is the culture of comparison that surrounds us. It’s all around us, in our families approval or disapproval, advertising and social media are constantly telling you how to be more beautiful or slightly smarter than someone else. I think every generation feels like they’re not good enough because it was drilled into their heads from a young age that there were always people better than us.
Even more subtly comes in the form of society not being accepting of you and your true nature like in the LGBTQ community. If you are a part of this community, you know the lack of acceptance all to well, if you aren’t, you still experience the same lack of acceptance from society in some form .
“We’re not supposed to be who we are.” This is the kind of quote that I hear all too often. We’re taught from a young age that there’s one way to do things and it doesn’t involve being true to yourself. In order for us to succeed in life, we need to act like someone else, someone better. However, you can’t fake it for long and eventually you will feel compelled to honor yourself….an awesome step towards owning your self-worth!
Now let’s face some of the Internal factors
Internal factors are some of the hardest to face, but often the most significant.
Events happen…you can’t avoid it. My clients go through my signature Phoenix process where they uncover the core story they associate with the events in their life.
We can boil most of it down to main themes like feeling disposable, unlovable or not good enough.
Example my biological mom abandoned me. The how is irrelevant, the fact remains she chose not to be a part of my life so my core story ended up being I must have no value and will never be good enough, not for anyone or anything.
What do you tell yourself about who you are or what you’re capable of as a result of the events in your life? These are internal factors.
My clients learn how to rewrite their core story and create a new narrative. They are able to see that they have value, worth, self-love and acceptance of who they were created to be.
It’s not about becoming someone different or better than you already are; it’s about being fully loved by yourself so you can love others well too!
What about the double whammy
We are talking about the combination of both external and internal factors.
I had people telling me literally I’d never amount to a thing, combine that with the internal core story of I must have no value and will never be good enough and I walk around like this is an absolute truth and when we believe something to be absolutely true then we behave according to that belief.
Both the external world in which we are constantly being told by everyone around us from a very early age who we are, what we are capable of and the internal messages that show up as a result of an original wound when our self-worth formed as child… makes for a double whammy.
For total transparency, sometimes I still don’t feel all that secure today! It is work that takes effort and I can definitely tell when my effort lacks a little oomph.
There may be some real things that have happened in your life, messages you received in some way and then your thoughts align with all this which is why you continue to buy into this notion that you aren’t good enough, don’t measure up, are unlovable or are disposable.
The good news, its all a lie
The bad news, its up to you to change how you feel.
Here are some tried and true ways to ditch feeling not good enough and own your innate self worth:
1. Stop comparing yourself to others and find your own sense of self.
So many people are comparing themselves to others and not feeling like they measure up. It can be hard sometimes, but you have got to stop this comparison game and find your own sense of self. The way someone else lives their life might not fit with the way that you want to live yours, so make sure that you’re living in a way that is true for you!
If it’s really getting on top of you how much these comparisons bug you then take some time out every day or at the end of each week just for yourself where your focused effort is on you and what you like, what makes you feel good and you give to yourself — whatever feels right. You deserve some peace too after all ;)
What do YOU think
2. Take care of your mental health by getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, and taking time for yourself.
You wouldn’t think this is so important but it is!
Getting enough sleep, drinking water and taking time for yourself on a regular basis will help you stay grounded and take care of the number one thing that is keeping you from feeling good enough- yourself.
So, start taking care of your mental health by following those three steps! With my clients we call these action steps 5-minute matters, just set a timer for 5 minutes and grab that cup of water, spend 5 minutes preparing for sleep or simply spend 5 minutes in silence with yourself.
The point is, we can start to do anything for 5 minutes, if you end up only spending 5 minutes doing any one of these things, it will matter and if you end up going over 5 minutes, it will matter!
3. Find a hobby that you enjoy to give you something outside of work or school to focus on
Instead of focusing 100% on yourself which some folks find uncomfortable, find a hobby that you enjoy and spend time with it each day. It can be anything from playing sports to drawing with your kids in the park; creating art; doing charity work; going hiking/camping — you name it! This is a great way to welcome some self care into our lives instead of always feeling like we’re trying so hard but not being able to get there. The most important thing here is that its something for you, that you enjoy. For me, I like planting herbs and veggies….truth be told, I already know they might not survive my brown thumb by I thoroughly enjoy it so I plant my plants!
If you aren’t sure what a good hobby for you is, start with anything, go for a walk, take a bike ride, or try cooking something new. Give yourself permission to explore.
4. Spend more quality time with friends and family — don’t be afraid to tell them what you need
Spending time with loved ones can restore a sense of safety within ourselves. Of course your family needs to be a safe space. Just as a reference, I wouldn’t seek out my biological mother for this or the family who told me I would never amount to a thing. Family is a loose term here, family can be the family you choose, not just the family you were born with.
Think of the people who are safe for you, who you would love to call family or if you dig your own family, go there!
Don’t be afraid to tell them what you need! It can be so refreshing to you and them! Here is what it looks like to ask for what you need:
I have a need for safety, so what I am asking you to do is let me finish my thought before you say anything.
It is a simple script, first state your need, spend some quality time with yourself so you know what you need and if you have a hard time identifying what you do need, start somewhere, start with safety, connection, love, care. Then the next part is important, ask for one action step the other person can make to increase the sense of that need. Notice I didn’t say fulfill…no one can fill you up with what you need, but they can contribute.
1 action step!
5. Get rid of clutter in your life — this can include old clothes, shoes, books, or anything else that isn’t used anymore
Ok, I am not going to lie, organizing, decluttering it isn’t my jam, for the most part I claim I’d rather poke my eye out…lol
ANNNNNNNND at the same time, I absolutely love the end result, so I really do love this one but limit myself to a drawer, or cabinet or closet or room, just one focus area.
So pick an area, start the process of cleaning up your space, ultimately there is truth in a cluttered space is a cluttered mind so when you free up your space, you are freeing up head space and heart space.
6. Start an appreciation list where every day you take a picture of the things you appreciate that are around you
This a favorite activity for myself and my clients! The process is simple and the rewards are huge. Simply take a picture of something in the room, around your house or even on you that you appreciate. It could be anything from “ I love my new iphone” to “I am so in love with this amazing sky”. The idea is to notice and recognize your appreciation for all of the things we have each day- it’s an easy way to start to feel better.
Give yourself a week, take a picture each day and at the end of the week, review them, even the process of reviewing what you appreciate will support your value and that you see value in a lot of things around you.
7. Be kinder to yourself — treat yourself with love and respect instead of criticism and judgement
The first step is to be kinder to yourself and stop judging your every move as right or wrong with an impossible standard of what you should do, think, say or feel. You are not perfect — so quit looking for flaws in everything that you do. Be gentle on yourself when things don’t go the way they were supposed to go because always being hard on yourself only leads to feeling bad about who you are deep down inside. And it’s okay if we make mistakes just learn from them instead of beating ourselves up over them all the time.”
It’s so easy to get caught up in how others are living their lives and compare yourself to them, but it can make you feel like your life is not good enough. Try these tips out for a month or two and see if they help you find more happiness with your surroundings. Be kinder to yourself too; we’re often our own harshest critics! Share this post with your friends who may be feeling the same way as well so that they too can have an increase sense of self worth.
Contessa Akin is Lessons From Adversity’s self-worth coach blogger and childhood abuse survivor in Dallas Texas. Sign up for her free reclaim your self-worth audio download on her website and check back every week for her latest blog post!